The world of ecochair

Behind the scenes at ecochair.ch. Our adventures, our successes and sometimes a few little disasters.  Plus lots of great ideas and tips for living a more sustainable life, through second-hand furniture and beyond.

Oh, the places you'll go! And the cows you'll see...

Posted by Kathleen Bottriell on

One of the things I love about secondhand furniture is the stories that come with it. Even when we don't know the stories of a particular piece, we can still imagine the lives these chairs and couches might have lived. These stories and the feelings they evoke can be a powerful part of what makes something we buy special; who we bought it from, the circumstances in which we bought it, the care and detail that went in to creating the piece.

The funky white honeycomb pendant lamp that hangs in our spare room - it looks like it might have once hung in an ultra-chic 1970's home, and witnessed many groovin' disco evenings. I found it in a brocki, but I felt like I was rescuing it from dereliction. It brings echoes of something more, of interesting lives lived, to our otherwise dull spare room.

I was telling my doctor this week about ecochair.ch, and she was very excited (so much so, I had to remind her to write my prescription). She told me how much she loved old furniture - that for her, it reminded her of her grandfather's house in Egypt, with the soaring high ceilings, sourrounded by beautiful things, that she could picture from her childhood.

For those of you who follow me on instagram, you will have seen that I made a little trip out to the countryside last week. I'm planning to open a little coffee bar in the shop on Breisacherstrasse, and I had spotted a really nice looking stainless steel worktop for sale which I thought would be perfect. I had never heard of the village where it was for sale, even though it was only about 20 minutes away, but nontheless, I hopped in the car and fired up the GPS. I soon found myself surrounded by fields and on winding forestry roads, and ended up having to drive down one of those roads that says 'only for farm vehicles'. I pulled up next to the barn (and a field full of cows), and tentatively knocked on the farmhouse door.

I was greeted by a smiling, if somewhat intimidating, Swiss farmer. She looked at me inquisitively - I explained in my best German that I was there for the table. Apparently the email I had sent about when I was coming hadn't arrived. I guess they don't get too many unexpected visitors out there. She ushered me in and took me down to the lower floor where the table was, and explained that she used the table in her bakery, gesturing to the next room, which was full of stainless steel mixing machines, and that she had bought a new table. I could see the new table there, all shiny and new. But this one, the one I had come for, how nice! It has a beautiful wood frame with two wheels and a shiny work surface. Perhaps the wood is not so practical for a bakery, but for my dreams of a coffee bar, its perfect. She hoisted the table up herself and brought it outside, while I brought the car over. She was fascinated by how quiet it was - 'it's electric', I told her. We loaded it up, and with that, I was off, back through the fields of cows, on to the winding forestry roads, the highway and then Breisacherstrasse. Me, now admiring my new purchase and thinking about all the coffees I will serve to the customers; her, scratching her head a bit over the strange Canadian woman with the electric car, and funny way of speaking German.

I love these stories - such a long way off from spending a chaotic Saturday in a giant big box store full of people buying the same thing - another Billy, another Poang.  I've got some ideas about how we might incorporate that into ecochair.ch, so that these stories can continue on with their new owners.

Until next time,

Kate

 

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Oh, the places you'll go! And the cows you'll see...

Posted by Kathleen Bottriell on

One of the things I love about secondhand furniture is the stories that come with it. Even when we don't know the stories of a particular piece, we can still imagine the lives these chairs and couches might have lived. These stories and the feelings they evoke can be a powerful part of what makes something we buy special; who we bought it from, the circumstances in which we bought it, the care and detail that went in to creating the piece.

The funky white honeycomb pendant lamp that hangs in our spare room - it looks like it might have once hung in an ultra-chic 1970's home, and witnessed many groovin' disco evenings. I found it in a brocki, but I felt like I was rescuing it from dereliction. It brings echoes of something more, of interesting lives lived, to our otherwise dull spare room.

I was telling my doctor this week about ecochair.ch, and she was very excited (so much so, I had to remind her to write my prescription). She told me how much she loved old furniture - that for her, it reminded her of her grandfather's house in Egypt, with the soaring high ceilings, sourrounded by beautiful things, that she could picture from her childhood.

For those of you who follow me on instagram, you will have seen that I made a little trip out to the countryside last week. I'm planning to open a little coffee bar in the shop on Breisacherstrasse, and I had spotted a really nice looking stainless steel worktop for sale which I thought would be perfect. I had never heard of the village where it was for sale, even though it was only about 20 minutes away, but nontheless, I hopped in the car and fired up the GPS. I soon found myself surrounded by fields and on winding forestry roads, and ended up having to drive down one of those roads that says 'only for farm vehicles'. I pulled up next to the barn (and a field full of cows), and tentatively knocked on the farmhouse door.

I was greeted by a smiling, if somewhat intimidating, Swiss farmer. She looked at me inquisitively - I explained in my best German that I was there for the table. Apparently the email I had sent about when I was coming hadn't arrived. I guess they don't get too many unexpected visitors out there. She ushered me in and took me down to the lower floor where the table was, and explained that she used the table in her bakery, gesturing to the next room, which was full of stainless steel mixing machines, and that she had bought a new table. I could see the new table there, all shiny and new. But this one, the one I had come for, how nice! It has a beautiful wood frame with two wheels and a shiny work surface. Perhaps the wood is not so practical for a bakery, but for my dreams of a coffee bar, its perfect. She hoisted the table up herself and brought it outside, while I brought the car over. She was fascinated by how quiet it was - 'it's electric', I told her. We loaded it up, and with that, I was off, back through the fields of cows, on to the winding forestry roads, the highway and then Breisacherstrasse. Me, now admiring my new purchase and thinking about all the coffees I will serve to the customers; her, scratching her head a bit over the strange Canadian woman with the electric car, and funny way of speaking German.

I love these stories - such a long way off from spending a chaotic Saturday in a giant big box store full of people buying the same thing - another Billy, another Poang.  I've got some ideas about how we might incorporate that into ecochair.ch, so that these stories can continue on with their new owners.

Until next time,

Kate

 

SaveSave

Read more


Peering in the window

Posted by Kathleen Bottriell on

Time flies when you're having fun! It was less than a month ago that I got the keys to the new shop, but already it feels like home. It's such a beautiful space, with a huge glass window and herringbone parquet that it has needed very little addition. We installed a chandelier, moved the small stock of furniture in, and set up my desk.

I am planning an official opening in mid-May, though I've already had a few curious folk peering in the window. I even had a gentleman open the door and walk in to the shop to take a look, so it's off to a good start. Of course, the business is mainly online, but sometimes it's nice to have human contact and for people to know that there is a place where they can go to talk to a real person.

Right now I'm busy planning the opening, and getting ecochair established on the internet. So far, we have an instagram channel, a facebook page, a linkedin account and a youtube channel. I've also put us on the map with google, so you can find us, if you'd like to drop by.

Here's a sneak peek at the shop:

 

Inside ecochair shop furniture and glass shopfront with chandelierShop front with large window and cobblestones breisacherstrasse

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Peering in the window

Posted by Kathleen Bottriell on

Time flies when you're having fun! It was less than a month ago that I got the keys to the new shop, but already it feels like home. It's such a beautiful space, with a huge glass window and herringbone parquet that it has needed very little addition. We installed a chandelier, moved the small stock of furniture in, and set up my desk.

I am planning an official opening in mid-May, though I've already had a few curious folk peering in the window. I even had a gentleman open the door and walk in to the shop to take a look, so it's off to a good start. Of course, the business is mainly online, but sometimes it's nice to have human contact and for people to know that there is a place where they can go to talk to a real person.

Right now I'm busy planning the opening, and getting ecochair established on the internet. So far, we have an instagram channel, a facebook page, a linkedin account and a youtube channel. I've also put us on the map with google, so you can find us, if you'd like to drop by.

Here's a sneak peek at the shop:

 

Inside ecochair shop furniture and glass shopfront with chandelierShop front with large window and cobblestones breisacherstrasse

SaveSave

Read more


Watch this space... brick and mortar shop coming soon

Posted by Kathleen Bottriell on

brick-and-mortar or bricks-and-mortar

[brik-uh n-mawr-ter]

  1. :  relating to or being a traditional business serving customers in a building as contrasted to an online business <a brick–and–mortar store>

We have some very exciting news here at ecochair. It looks like we will soon have our very own shop in Klein Basel!

While our business is predominantly online, we appreciate that it's nice to be able to see and touch things before you buy them. While we won't hold the entire stock in the shop (it's a pretty small shop), we will post pictures of our shop window online so you can decide whether you want to come visit us. We have a few more ideas how to use this 'brick and mortar' outpost to help enhance your online shopping experience, so watch this space.

In the meantime, feel free to browse what we have online.

Read more

Watch this space... brick and mortar shop coming soon

Posted by Kathleen Bottriell on

brick-and-mortar or bricks-and-mortar

[brik-uh n-mawr-ter]

  1. :  relating to or being a traditional business serving customers in a building as contrasted to an online business <a brick–and–mortar store>

We have some very exciting news here at ecochair. It looks like we will soon have our very own shop in Klein Basel!

While our business is predominantly online, we appreciate that it's nice to be able to see and touch things before you buy them. While we won't hold the entire stock in the shop (it's a pretty small shop), we will post pictures of our shop window online so you can decide whether you want to come visit us. We have a few more ideas how to use this 'brick and mortar' outpost to help enhance your online shopping experience, so watch this space.

In the meantime, feel free to browse what we have online.

Read more


How it all began

Posted by Kathleen Bottriell on

It would have been hard to imagine, floating down a swirling river in a dugout canoe with a Swiss man I had just met, that I would someday launch an online furniture marketplace in Basel.

I've found that life, like a river, is much easier when you go with the flow. In my case, it led me to Basel. I arrived in late summer 2014, moving from Washington  (leaving a job at a big international organisation to follow-up my heart, like so many of us foreigners in Switzerland!).

We moved in to a relatively spacious home near Basel. Having sold or given away most of my worldly possessions, and with a Swiss man who had very few pieces of furniture, I was faced with the task of furnishing our new home. I poked around some nice design stores (3,500 CHF for a table? Ulp!), got lost in several mazes of Brockenhauses, and discovered Tutti and OLX online. I liked Tutti and OLX best because I didn't have to talk to anyone in person, and I relied heavily on google translate to help me understand what was for sale, and communicate to sellers.  I'm pretty sure this resulted in some German messages along the lines of 'Hello Peter, Me want chair. Chair available? Get this week?'. No wonder I had such a poor response rate.

We had a few hiccups, with a table advertised in Basel that we actually had to pick up Sissach, and my lack of knowledge of Swiss geography combined with my Canadian sense of distances meant we sometimes travelled a bit far to get things. Me: Bern isn't that far, right? Him: You need to calculate 1 CHF per km. 1 CHF!! We just added 200CHF cost to that table. Me: Oh.

His friends thought I was crazy, going to so much trouble to buy second-hand furniture. Sometimes I started to wonder myself. But, it also made me wonder whether there was a better way, a way in which normal people who weren't interested in Adventures in Google Translate or Getting Lost in Brockenhauses could buy high quality furniture, which just happened to be second-hand.

For me, buying second-hand was important - I am motivated by reducing the environmental impact of my day to day life.  So, I began to develop the idea of an online furniture platform, that made it really easy to find and buy nice secondhand furniture. I knew that not everyone would be willing to go to the same effort as me, so I set out trying to solve what had been the biggest barriers for me – language, transportation and clear information about the items.  I have a clear recollection of describing my idea to my Migrosklubschule classmates over lunch one day, my comrades in arms in navigating this new land.

I was fortunate to already be renting a co-working desk at the Start-Up Academy, and approached them about joining the programme in early 2015. I was thrilled to be accepted, and have since embarked on a big learning curve in terms of starting a business in Switzerland. It took me about a year and half to get up and running, and while we still have a way to go, it’s my great pleasure to be officially online as of January 2017.

Take a look at what we have to offer, and buy it because you want it, because you love it, because it's just so easy to click and get that table delivered so you don't have to eat with your plate in your lap anymore. And, you'll just happen to be helping the planet too.

Happy shopping

Kate

Read more

How it all began

Posted by Kathleen Bottriell on

It would have been hard to imagine, floating down a swirling river in a dugout canoe with a Swiss man I had just met, that I would someday launch an online furniture marketplace in Basel.

I've found that life, like a river, is much easier when you go with the flow. In my case, it led me to Basel. I arrived in late summer 2014, moving from Washington  (leaving a job at a big international organisation to follow-up my heart, like so many of us foreigners in Switzerland!).

We moved in to a relatively spacious home near Basel. Having sold or given away most of my worldly possessions, and with a Swiss man who had very few pieces of furniture, I was faced with the task of furnishing our new home. I poked around some nice design stores (3,500 CHF for a table? Ulp!), got lost in several mazes of Brockenhauses, and discovered Tutti and OLX online. I liked Tutti and OLX best because I didn't have to talk to anyone in person, and I relied heavily on google translate to help me understand what was for sale, and communicate to sellers.  I'm pretty sure this resulted in some German messages along the lines of 'Hello Peter, Me want chair. Chair available? Get this week?'. No wonder I had such a poor response rate.

We had a few hiccups, with a table advertised in Basel that we actually had to pick up Sissach, and my lack of knowledge of Swiss geography combined with my Canadian sense of distances meant we sometimes travelled a bit far to get things. Me: Bern isn't that far, right? Him: You need to calculate 1 CHF per km. 1 CHF!! We just added 200CHF cost to that table. Me: Oh.

His friends thought I was crazy, going to so much trouble to buy second-hand furniture. Sometimes I started to wonder myself. But, it also made me wonder whether there was a better way, a way in which normal people who weren't interested in Adventures in Google Translate or Getting Lost in Brockenhauses could buy high quality furniture, which just happened to be second-hand.

For me, buying second-hand was important - I am motivated by reducing the environmental impact of my day to day life.  So, I began to develop the idea of an online furniture platform, that made it really easy to find and buy nice secondhand furniture. I knew that not everyone would be willing to go to the same effort as me, so I set out trying to solve what had been the biggest barriers for me – language, transportation and clear information about the items.  I have a clear recollection of describing my idea to my Migrosklubschule classmates over lunch one day, my comrades in arms in navigating this new land.

I was fortunate to already be renting a co-working desk at the Start-Up Academy, and approached them about joining the programme in early 2015. I was thrilled to be accepted, and have since embarked on a big learning curve in terms of starting a business in Switzerland. It took me about a year and half to get up and running, and while we still have a way to go, it’s my great pleasure to be officially online as of January 2017.

Take a look at what we have to offer, and buy it because you want it, because you love it, because it's just so easy to click and get that table delivered so you don't have to eat with your plate in your lap anymore. And, you'll just happen to be helping the planet too.

Happy shopping

Kate

Read more